WHO SEES THE ART?

Barbara Kruger installs politically charged murals across Los Angeles

Barbara Kruger, Untitled (Questions), 2020, at the NeueHouse Hollywood. (Courtesy NeueHouse Hollywood)

Spearheading the second Frieze Los Angeles, a major art fair held at Paramount Pictures Studios from February 13-16, local conceptual artist Barbara Kruger unveiled Untitled (Questions)public art project made up of 20 large-scale murals throughout the city of Los Angeles. The bright green murals have not only made their way to the facades of significant buildings, such as NeueHouse Hollywood, Union Station, and Banc of California Stadium, but, with the support of the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Bureau, have also taken over many of the city’s light pole banners, digital billboards, and other spaces typically designated for traditional forms of advertisement.

Organized by Bettina Korek, the executive director of Frieze Los Angeles, the project directly asks unsuspecting passersby deceptively complex questions, such as ‘WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?,’ ‘WHO BUYS THE CON?,’ and ‘WHAT’S HOT? WHAT’S NOT?,’ in a highly legible Futura Bold Oblique typeface.

“We are extremely honored to have collaborated with Barbara on the Frieze Week campaign,” Korek explained in a press statement. “This project trusts that in an age of distraction, people still pay attention. It’s quintessential how her choice of words balances directness and ambiguity, how they invite a viewer to read into what is being asked as well as what isn’t.” The project is, on one hand, a reflection of the artist’s anti-capitalist political views (rendered in green and white in a nod to American currency), and on the other hand an appropriation of billboard aesthetics in an attempt to provoke residents of the city, most of whom will not be attending Frieze Los Angeles, to question the status quo on their daily commutes.

Building with words on wall that reads "MOCA the Geffen Contemporary", from artist Barbara Kruger

Barbara Kruger, Untitled (Questions) (1990/2018) on view October 20, 2018–November 2020 at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA. (Elon Schoenholz)

Though Kruger has produced word-based murals in public space for over 30 years, this latest project is her farthest-reaching installation. The piece is complemented by Untitled (Questions)a 191-foot long mural installed on the southern facade of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) prior to the 2018 midterm elections. While the MOCA piece will be uninstalled on November 30 of this year (following the 2020 presidential election), the project commissioned by Frieze does not have a set end date, and will likely be uninstalled in stages.

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